Chronic pain is a major medical condition distinctly different and more complex than acute pain. While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert one to possible injury, chronic pain is a state in which pain persists for many months or years, beyond the normal course required by healing of an injury. The economic and personal losses associated with chronic pain can be significant, including costly medical expenses, lost income and productivity; lost mobility, anxiety or depression.
The causes of chronic pain are not always clear. Past traumatic injuries, congenital conditions, cancers, arthritis, and others might point to an obvious culprit, but in many cases the source of chronic pain can be very complex. This makes it difficult to treat, and pain management usually does not involve one approach, but a multidisciplinary focus designed to help the patient reach his or her highest level of function and independence.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain may develop as a result of several different conditions, including:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet joint pain
- Injury pain
- Cancer pain
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Your doctor will evaluate your condition through a series of diagnostic exams.
Pain Management Treatments
Treatments for chronic pain may focus on relieving symptoms or treating the underlying condition, and can vary depending on the cause and severity of each patient's individual condition, as well as their overall health and medical history. The most successful pain management programs are those that are specifically tailored for each individual patient so that they can remain actively involved in their own recovery.
Some of the most common treatments we use for chronic pain include:
- Medications: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are often the first treatment utilized to relieve chronic pain. Corticosteroids and other prescription medications may also be recommended as an initial treatment. Our doctors try to minimize pharmaceutical treatment by recommending appropriate alternate techniques whenever possible.
- Injections: Injections are one of the most effective treatment options for pain management, as they block nerve signals to relieve pain and inflammation. These injections are administered directly into the affected area, along with a local anesthetic to relieve any potential discomfort, and may be composed of corticosteroids, viscosupplementation, sclerosing solutions or other substances.
- Electrical Stimulation: Through a small battery-operated device worn on the body, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can relieve pain by stimulating the nerves that target the affected area of the body. This treatment is not painful and is considered safe for most patients.
- Biofeedback: An alternative treatment for many common conditions including headaches and chronic pain. Biofeedback trains you to let your thoughts control your body and improve your symptoms.